The Making of The Butterfly Book

One of the few productive things I did over my Christmas break was to finalize and order my latest little photo book: The Butterfly Book, book number 31 for me. In early November, I purchased a Groupon voucher for an 8" by 8" hard cover 20-page photo book from Shutterfly, the company I use for my There Must Be Magic book series.

The full list price for that size of book is just shy of $30, but I purchased the voucher for $5, a great deal. I knew that when I ordered the book, I'd pay just tax and shipping, which runs to about $8.50. $5 plus $8.50 isn't bad for a book. The voucher didn't expire until 12.31.17 - which seemed quite a long ways away at the time!

But the deadline crept closer and closer, and finally, I was running out of time. I decided to try to devote a few hours a day to it, starting on December 28, and I did just that for the past few days.

I clicked through my photo library, picking out favorites. I ended up with a set of 134 photos, far too many to fit in the book, but I knew that as the book took shape, it would all sort itself out. For a book this size, I tend to fit mostly 4 pictures to a page - around 80 or so total in a 20-page book, plus cover photos.

The most frustrating part was watching it take 90 minutes to upload them into a new photo album on the Shutterfly site via our home Internet connection - which is much slower than the University's backbone connection, where such a photo set could be uploaded in 5 or 10 minutes, maybe even less.

I chose Modern Black as the style, as I always do. Once I started doing the layout, it only took about 45 minutes to select photos for each page, mixing and matching. Then I added the standard elements I always do: a front cover with three photos on it, There Must Be Magic, and a title for the book.

On the back cover, I placed my standard copyright statement, the name of my publishing house (Skittering Vole Press), and a photo of Dexter (you may see him - the reluctant butterfly - in that second photo from left top). And on the first actual inside page of photos, a pertinent quote. That's it.

By mid-afternoon on Saturday, the book was nearly done. I knew that I wanted to sleep on it, and then on Sunday morning, I'd finalize and order it. I woke up on this day thinking of butterflies: I needed a red admiral, a pearl crescent, that pipevine swallowtail I spotted at an arboretum in Philly, and don't forget that picture of the monarch with dew drops on its antennae!

So my first constructive act on this day was to finalize and order my latest photo book. The final photo set was 87 pictures, and you can see about half of the set above. Altogether, it took me a bit more than 10 hours to make the book, including upload time.

Here's a thing I have learned: time passes, whether you make art, or whether you don't. And so this is how I chose to finish out my year: by making something tangible that I can hold in my hands out of photos of creatures I love. So here's to a year full of butterflies!

The soundtrack song is Leonard Cohen's Ain't No Cure for Love. I'm also including a cover by Jennifer Warnes, from her album Famous Blue Raincoat.

Related links:
Making Magic: How To Make a Photo Book Online
How to Make a Photo Book Online, Take 2
My Thirty Photo Books

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